News Corp loses appeal against £1.6m libel payout to actor Geoffrey Rush

An Australian court has rejected a newspaper publisher’s appeal against Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush’s 2.9 million Australian dollars (£1.6 million) payout for defamation.

Three Federal Court judges ruled that articles published by Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper in 2017 conveyed the imputation that Rush was a pervert.

They also ruled the trial judge had correctly included the actor’s loss of earnings in calculating damages.

News Corp-owned Nationwide News, which publishes the Telegraph, had appealed the ruling that Rush was defamed by newspaper reports saying he had been accused of inappropriate behavior by a co-star in a Sydney theater production.

The publisher’s lawyer Tom Blackburn told the two-day appeal hearing that trial judge Michael Wigney “cobbled together” speculation and inference to find Mr Rush was unable to work because of his state of mind following the publications and had fewer job offers since then.

The actor’s lawyer Bret Walker replied that Rush testified about the devastating effects the publications had on his mental state, while other evidence heard during the trial supported conclusions that he was unable to work and had fewer job offers.

Neither Rush nor the publisher immediately responded to requests for comment on Thursday.

Rush received the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in Shine and is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

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